Aviation Authorities Will Struggle To Coordinate Safety Information Despite Recent Threats

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Despite the tenacity of their demands, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will have difficulty convincing non-member states to comply with strict new guidelines proposed to encourage the distribution of intelligence regarding aviation safety concerns.

Following a joint meeting overnight, international aviation authorities have agreed to coordinate the sharing of essential safety information, establishing a new senior-level task force to address major security issues.

“This is a highly complex and politically sensitive area of international coordination, involving not only civil aviation regulations and procedures but also State national security and intelligence gathering activities,” ICAO said in a joint statement.

Representatives from ICAO, IATA and other regulatory aviation bodies acknowledged the “downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is unacceptable” and that the incident has “raised troubling concerns” with respect to the operation of civilian aircraft to, from and over conflict zones.

Industry officials have called upon ICAO to implement fail-safe channels in order for essential threat information to be made available to civil aviation authorities and the wider aviation community.

Industry leaders also highlighted the need to incorporate “measures to govern the design, manufacture and deployment of modern anti-aircraft weaponry” into international law, executed through the appropriate UN frameworks.

These administrative changes may be a catalyst for flight path adjustments – such as Emirates’ decision to no longer fly over Iraqi airspace – and other re-routing issues, possibly culminating in increased ticket costs for global airline consumers.

IATA chief executive Tony Tyler – who represented airline’s such as Qantas and Virgin Australia at the meeting – said the MH17 disaster “exposed a gap in the system”, however he stressed that the current rules “works extremely well in the vast majority of cases” and that air travel remains the safest method of mass transportation worldwide.

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